13 JANUARY 1855, Page 24

THE ISLAND EMPIRE. * A SOJOURN in Elba and an exploration

of the island, with a story of Napoleon's residence, does not seem a promising subject. The Island Empire is, however, a better book than might be supposed. It is not, indeed, very weighty or informing, and in the Napo- leonic inquiries the writer preserves too much the theatrical cha- racter of the foreign materials from which be often draws. But Elba is a fresh subject, with something remarkable in the features of the country and the character of the people ; and it is treated freshly, without being overdone.

An intractable nervous affection of the eyes induced the author

and his family to visit the island, at the recommendation of a phy- sician of Leghorn. His disorder forbade any direct strain upon the organ : he had therefore nothing left for it but excursions, public amusements, conversation, and gossip ; for which last the island seems well fitted, as the inhabitants are hospitable, cour- teous, and so few in number that everybody knows everybody's affairs. To a place so removed from the world, the residence of a

man like Napoleon and the persons he brought in his train was an event never to be forgotten. All "the oldest inhabitants" the Em- peror came in contact with seem to remember the miuutest circum- stance that occurred, and they are not averse to communicate their knowledge. This oral information, a narrative of the author's ex- cursions, an account of some of the peculiar customs of the island- ers, and of the industries of the island, such as the mines and the tunny fishery, form the first division of the book. The second contains the history of Napoleon's reign at Elba, in part derived from oral information, but mainly from published works on the subject, and the official papers of Sir Niel Campbell and others, to which the author has been permitted access. The third part is a brief outline of the history of Elba. Of these three, the first divi- sion is the best, being the result of original observation, and par- taking of its life and freshness. The sojourn of Napoleon at Elba offers little that is new and important, whether as regards his mode of living on the island, or the communications that were going on between his friends and himself.

"If you want a thing done, you must do it yourself," is an old maxim, which is just now receiving additional illustration in the management of the war. As no man, however, can do everything, the very sharpest may be deceived. Who would suppose that even the great Napoleon, of whose power over subordinates we hear much just now, could be thus cheated before his face ?

"A retired officer of the Insular Corps related to us an anecdote in rela- tion to this well, as a proof of the manner in which the impatience of the Emperor to receive prompt answers to any question he might put often elicited incorrect though ready replies.

"On the occasion of the Emperor's encampment, he desired the officer in question to take the measure of the grotto in which the fountain was situated. The latter went down; but, on reaching it, he found he had forgotten some necessary instrument. Not wishing to incur the Emperor's displeasure by showing his forgetfulness, he remained some minutes, thinking that the latter would have started on an excursion he meditated; At length, having allowed time enough to pass, he mounted to the encampment to fetch the instrument. To his horror, the Emperor was not gone.

" Well, what are the dimensions ? ' asked the Emperor.

" 'Twenty-five metres,' answered his quick-witted subaltern, instantly. " 'Bette! ' rejoined the Emperor, and the grotto was never measured." The village of Capoliveri is or was a sort of Alsatia or privileged

sanctuary ; and its inhabitants have the credit of upholding the re- putation of their ancestors, being universally considered thieves and liars. The last generation seem to have been entitled to the praise of spirit, coupled, as some sort of spirit often is, with con- siderable ignorance. The place has a church with a miraculous painting.

"The Emperor Napoleon visited this church, and was struck by the paint- ing. His visit to Capoliveri is noted in the annals of the place, and is marked by a curious piece of adulation, not entirely devoid of profanity.

"On the arrival of the Emperor at Porto Ferrajo, the people of Capoliveri were somewhat aghast at a tax which he imposed upon the island in general. Heretofore the Municipal Councils of the island had been allowed to deter- mine the manner in which they should raise the tribute to be paid to their Sovereign at Piombino, and the imposition of a direct tax was not palatable. They had understood it from a foreign state, but not from an individual. At a meeting of a Council, therefore, the debate ran high, and the best-educated individual amongst them, the archpriest of the parish, one Bartolini, made an oration, in which he said—' We have always been faithful to our Prince, and have paid to him his dues to the full, but in the manner that pleased us. Who is this Napoleon, who assumes to give us laws ? whence does he come?'

"His questions were answered by shouts; and the Capoliveresi held out, until their sovereign, who was not of the kind to be long ignored, forced them to comply with his demands, at the same time that with his keen ap- preciation of human nature he named the archpriest one of his Councillors of State. On paying his visit to this portion of his territory, the Emperor

uncertain as to the reception he should receive, and seeing a crowd at

th p of the hill, he sent forward an officer to discover the intentions of the population. Not many minutes elapsed before his emissary returned, together with the head man of the village, attired in a red uniform, which

• The Island Empire ; or the Scenes of the First Exile of the Emperor Napoleon the First ; together with a Narrative of his Residence on the Island of Elba, taken from Local Information, the Papers of the British Resident, and other authentic sources. By the Author of " Blondelle." Published by Bosworth.

in days of yore had been that of Piombino, and with four choristers bearing the baldacchino or canopy held in processions over the host. The Emperor, wisely complying with circumstances, walked with a grave face under it into the village ; and was seen by our host the corporal, then a boy, who re- lated the facts."

The following is from a conversation which the British Commis- sioner, Colonel Campbell, held with Napoleon. It has interest in reference to present affairs.

"He remarked, that if Russia could attach the minds of the Poles so far as to unite them with her as one people, she would be the most powerful state in the world. But this was the difficulty, and the solution of the pro- blem seemed improbable.

"If the Emperor Alexander should send a viceroy to Poland, still keeping the public appointments and the government in the hands of the Russians, the Poles never could be attached to him nor obedient ; and such a union would not contribute to the strength of Russia. The nobles were numerous, high-spirited, well-educated, could not be deceived, and would not be satis-

fied with the name, devoid of the reality, of a kingdom. The rest of the people were in a manner slaves, destitute of education, and would follow with unbounded confidence and perseverance any cause which their own nobles might espouse. " If, however, Russia should succeed in uniting the Poles to a common interest, the whole of Europe would have reason to repent it, and the conse- quences could not be foreseen.

"Hordes of Cossacks and barbarians, who had seen the wealth of better countries, would be eager, as in former ages, to return ; would overrun Europe, and effect some monstrous change. His own opinion, nevertheless, led him to believe that the interests of Russians and Poles could never be identified."